Skip to main content

Tycho brahe in china: the Jesuit mission to Peking and the iconography of European instrument-making processes

Buy Article:

$55.00 plus tax (Refund Policy)


In the late 1660s, Ferdinand Verbiest, a Flemish Jesuit missionary in Peking, was instructed to re-equip the Imperial Observatory. The new instruments which he caused to be built were modelled neither upon contemporary European prototypes, nor those of traditional Chinese astronomy, but on the pieces in Tycho Brahe's Mechanica , of eighty years before. The Chinese instruments were lavishly illustrated, moreover, in 105 woodcuts that contained detailed representations of their processes of construction. It is argued that these illustrations not only give us valuable insights into what the technical Jesuits did in Peking, but show how sixteenth- and seventeenth-century European craftsmen constructed their instruments, for while the location was Oriental, the technology was Western. They can also give important insights into how Tycho's prototypes had been built, and provide us with useful information regarding European instrument-making technology.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Wadham College, Oxford, OX1 3PM, England

Publication date: 1984-09-01

More about this publication?
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more